New Gardening Program at The Red Lion Inn; Vessels of Awe at Blithewold Mansion; dividing perennials; featured perennial; Grand Garden Shows; 10 No-No perennials if you have rabbits and more!
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Perennially Yours
Gardening Newsletter
June 2016
Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the Music! That is how I feel for two important reasons.  Evan graduated from Harvard last week and my gardens are doing their own celebratory dance with the warmer weather.  I’ll share more about Evan in the Evan and Mom’s Corner but as for the gardens, as few of the flashiest dancers right now are woods phlox (Phlox divaricata), Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadows’, Kerria, pasqueflower (Pulsatilla, pictured above) and forget-me-nots.
Blue forget-me-nots, gold hakone grass and Japanese maple 'Full Moon'
A lovely Lady's Slipper in the woods near my home
My sister Jane's birdbath cracked so she re-purposed it as a planter
In this Edition ...
Featured Product
  • Vessels of Awe
  • Goldenteak furniture
  • Nutri-Mulch
Featured Plant
  • Jacob's Ladder
A Timely Tip
  • Ten No-No perennials if you have ravenous rabbits
  • Dividing perennials
Evan & Mom's Corner
  • Evan graduates from Harvard
Breaking News
  • New Fall gardening program at The Red Lion Inn
  • Grand Garden Shows
  • Dr. Leonard Perry's perennial growers bus trip
  • Right-Size Flower Gardens featured in Coastal Home magazine
  • 20% discount at Gardener's Supply Company
  • Jan Johnsen's design tips for heavenly gardens featured in Garden Design
Upcoming June Events
Sat. 4  Behnke Garden Center.  Beltsville, Maryland.  11:00 a.m.  Design Tips for High-Impact, Low-Maintenance Flower Gardens

Sun. 5  Rolling Green Nursery. Greenland, NH.  1:00 p.m. Design Tips for High-Impact, Low-Maintenance Flower Gardens

Fri. 17  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Garden Symposium.  Boothbay, ME.   Striking, Uncommon Plants and Awe-Inspiring Design Ideas.

Sat. 25  Long Island Community Garden.  Long Island, ME.  9:30 a.m. The Right-Size Flower Garden
This fantastic event promises to be the capstone of your fall season!  Join nationally recognized speakers and authors - Karen Bussolini, Jan Johnsen and myself - as we share time-tested pointers for gorgeous flower gardens that provide non-stop color plus are plant and eco-friendly. The program takes place Thursday, October 20 at the renowned Red Lion Inn located in Stockbridge, MA.  The agenda includes three morning lectures, book signings and mid-morning refreshments.  There is also an optional luncheon featuring a Question and Answer Panel with the speakers.  Plus The Red Lion Inn is offering a very special discounted room rates at the inn for program participants.   

The featured lectures are:

*Jazzing Up the Garden with Color, Contrast and Movement: showcases dozens of exciting plant combinations photographed in gardens across the country. Plants with special character and plants that move – or appear to - enliven the mix. Presenter: Karen Bussolini.

*Late Summer and Fall - The Seasons of Garden Delight: highlights plants that are in their glory from August to October. Discover how to extend the garden year by adding some of these colorful shrubs, trees and groundcovers to your home landscape. Presenter: Jan Johnsen.

*Ten Valuable Tips for Thriving, Sustainable Flower Gardens: features practical design tips, maintenance and plant care practices, and plant selections that yield high-impact, low-maintenance landscapes.  Presenter: Kerry Ann Mendez.

The program kicks off at 8:30 a.m. and concludes by 12:30 p.m.  The optional luncheon follows at 12:45 p.m.  The registration fee for the morning program, which includes three lectures, book signings, handouts, morning coffee and tea, mid-morning refreshments, a Proven Winners plant and door prizes is $56 per person (limited to 100 people). The luncheon with speakers is $32 per person (limited to 40 people). To learn more about the speakers, lectures, agenda, luncheon and to register click here

Special Discounted Room Accommodations available at The Red Lion Inn. Garden program participants are offered a special rate of only $124 per night (single or double) available for Tuesday evening (October 19) and Thursday evening (October 20). To receive this special rate, call the Inn at 413-298-1690 and refer to the Great Gardens Program. The renowned Red Lion Inn is one of the few New England inns that has operated continuously since the 18th century. The Red Lion is convenient to the numerous cultural and outdoor attractions in the Berkshires including the Berkshire Botanical Garden, Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Chesterwood (home and studio of Daniel Chester French).
Jan Johnsen has a gift for creating outdoor spaces that envelop onlookers with a sense of serenity.  One cannot help but feel good and at peace with the world when viewing her works of art.  Jan’s newest book, Heaven is a Garden (St. Lynn’s Press, 2014), offers breathtaking visual examples and specific ways to make a garden look glorious and feel harmonious at the same time.

The most recent issue of Garden Design magazine treats readers to some of Jan’s unique tips for introducing peacefulness into their landscape.  I was mesmerized by her unique methods for assessing one’s landscape in order to bring out the best in the space, both in its natural beauty and how it emotionally impacts you.  Jan’s commentary on creating ‘music for the eye’ and the ‘language of color’  were fascinating.  I was particularly intrigued on how to find your garden’s ‘power spot’.

This six-page article highlighting nine of Jan’s design tips will inspire you to infuse more tranquility into your little piece on heaven on earth.

To learn more about this article and Garden Design, a one-of-a-kind, ad-free, premier quarterly ‘bookazine’ featuring beautiful garden photographs; plant picks; design ideas; outdoor living furnishings and much, much more, click here. To receive one free issue with your subscription (a $12.95 value), click here.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, located in Boothbay, Maine, is extraordinary, just as is their annual garden symposium each June. This year’s symposium takes place on Friday, June 17 from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Featured speakers are: Tony Avent (avid plant explorer and founder and proprietor of the famed “Plant Delights Nursery” and founder of Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina); Tovah Martin (outstanding horticulturalist, author, freelance writer, photo stylist and lecturer) and me.  The lecture line-up:  ‘From Rare to Spare – Propagating the World’s Coolest Perennials’ (Tony Avent), ‘The Unexpected Houseplant: Bringing Nature into Your Home’ (Tovah Martin), and ‘Striking, Uncommon Plants and Awe-Inspiring Design Tips’ (me). 

Registration is $85 for CMBG members; $100 for nonmembers.  Registration includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch and admission into the Gardens.  To learn more, click here  or call (207) 633 - 8000
Goldenteak is my company of choice when it comes to superior teak furniture and accessories.  I’ve ordered several benches and chairs from them over the years.  Most recently, the 4’ Aquinah bench for the courtyard garden at my son’s final club in Cambridge (pictured right).

Based in Lawrence, MA, Goldenteak only uses Grade A teak that offers the most longevity. It is the hardest wood from the teak tree. Only knots of less than 0.5 inch are allowed, and only one to two knots per meter. The specification allows for any blemishes to be on the underside of the products.  You may find other companies that sell teak products at what seem like absurdly low prices. BUT If you look carefully at their items you will notice that their wood grades are what is called Grade B/C in the industry – much lower quality!  Because Goldenteak only uses superior teak they can offer a 5 Year warranty on their furniture.

Goldenteak offers much more than first-rate outdoor furniture.  You can also shop for teak planter boxes, fire pit domes, teak showers, outdoor rugs, weathervanes and much more.

Goldenteak is currently offering free shipping to most states for orders over $100 (click here for details)

Now it’s time to click on their web site and be ready to be dazzled!
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island welcomes the bold lines and generous volumes of Stephen Procter's handmade ceramic vessels to Blithewold. 

Stephen, my good friend and amazing artist, is creating almost 20 vessels for Blithewold, which will stand harmoniously in the gardens throughout the estate from June 4 through October 10. Steve’s awe-inspiring pieces range from moderate to massive.  All of his outdoor masterpieces can remain outside year-round (they are winter hardy!). 

Stephen is very familiar with creating large pieces that he fires in his five-foot tall kiln, but for the Blithewold show he is excited to push boundaries in terms of vessel size.  Stephen’s vessels marry ancient traditions with an elegant contemporary sensibility. The large scale of the pieces lends a sense of presence and spirit that makes them a powerful focal point in the garden.  Don’t take my word for this – check these one-of-a-kind pieces out for yourself with a visit to Blithewold.  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at this grand estate and gardens and it is a must visit!
There is NOTHING like the Grand Garden Shows hosted by Proven Winners.  These extravaganzas are over-the-top in quality, content, settings and participant giveaways.  Sheer luxury and garden euphoria!  

You have two GRAND choices.  The first up on the calendar is the Grand Garden Show at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (northern Michigan) taking place Sunday, August 28 through Tuesday, August 30. Speakers include P. Allen Smith (award-winning food, lifestyle and garden expert); Keith Kirsten (horticulturist, author, television show host and lecturer from South Africa - pictured below); Jack Barnwell (award winning garden designer, author, and owner of C3 Gardens as well as Barnwell Landscape and Garden) and others, including myself.  In addition to gourmet food and a majestic setting, you will also have the opportunity to visit stunning private gardens around the island. 

As mentioned in earlier newsletters, I will also be leading a special 3-hour, garden design and remarkable plants class as a kick-off to The Grand Garden Show (separate registration).  Day only as well as packaged show tickets are available.  To learn more about this show, registration (day and hotel packages) click here.

The Grand Garden Show - ‘round two’ - steps off Wednesday, September 7 through Friday, September 9 at The Greenbrier, a National Historic Landmark and world-class resort in the Allegeny Mountains of West Virginia. I am honored to be one of the featured speakers at this program.  Other keynotes are Keith Kirsten and Jack Barnwell.  Once again this elaborate program includes informative seminars, gourmet food and beverages plus afternoon tours of magnificent private gardens.   Plus there will be evening cocktail receptions with the speakers to round out the days’ festivities.   Grand Garden Show packages are available at The Greenbrier as well as day-only tickets.  Day-only ticket options are:

*$175 per day (includes one cocktail reception and the next morning’s lectures and afternoon garden tours)
*$325 for Thursday and Friday garden seminars and afternoon tours as well as Wednesday and Thursday evening cocktail receptions.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. these past few months.  I hope to see a number of you at The Greenbrier Grand Garden Show.  And please tell your friends as well.  Let’s make this first time show at The Greenbrier an overwhelming success!

For more information about the show and to register, please click here.
My dear friend Dr. Leonard Perry, a Horticulture Professor at the University of Vermont, has once again lined up some terrific bus trips for garden enthusiasts.  A number of these trips have already filled-up but there is still room on the Monday, August 8 day tour of several perennial growers and display gardens in northern Vermont. This tour is also sponsored by Green Works, the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association.

Featured stops include Full Circle Gardens in Essex Junction, Perennial Pleasures Nursery (pictured above) in East Hardwick (where you’ll enjoy an English-style light lunch and cream tea), and von Trapp Greenhouses and Gardens (pictured right) in Waitsfield. Refreshments will be served going and coming on a Premier luxury coach (with room to hold plants and purchases), plus videos on the bus ride will give you an overview of other gardens and horticultural sites. There also will be plenty of gardening information and tips provided, a chance to ask your own garden questions, the chance to meet and network with other gardeners, and of course the opportunity to shop and buy perennials and plants for your own gardens. The cost of the tour is $79 per person prior to June 15, 2016; $89 per person after June 15, 2016 (except $79 for Green Works members and VT Master Gardeners). For more information click here  or call Kristina MacKulin at 802-425-5117.
Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder)  This charming native has delicate lacy leaves that form low mounds.  It was nicknamed Jacob’s Ladder because of the arrangement of their leaves — pairs of opposite leaflets that supposedly resembled the ladder that the biblical patriarch Jacob dreamed stretched up to heaven from earth.  Both the foliage and flowers are eye-candy.  Foliage can be solid green, variegated or dark purple.  Flowers are usually lavender-blue or white.  Polemonium prefers sun to part shade (more shade in warmer zones) and ranges in height from 12”-24”. Some of my favorite cultivars are ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (pictured), ‘Bressingham Purple’, ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Apricot Delight’ (apricot-pink flowers).  It is hardy in Zones 3 – 8 and rarely bothered by deer or rabbits. Photo taken in my Maine garden
I was thrilled when asked to write an article on right-sizing flower gardens by Coastal Home magazine, an elite quarterly magazine that features homes, gardens and lifestyle articles in the New England region.  This five-page piece is in the spring 2016 magazine, a special double issue that includes two magazines – Coastal Home plus Taste of the Seacoast, a publication about great food, wine, entertaining and dining out.
Say that again?!  Yup, you heard me correctly.  I just treated my gardens for a second year in a row with a top-dressing of nutrient rich, weed suppressing Nutri-Mulch from Casella Organics, a company dedicated to beneficial use and recycling of organic and mineral resources.  Nutri-Mulch is manufactured from aged native Maine bark and earthlife™ compost (biosolids), its dark color and rich texture are ideal for perennials, ornamentals, and around trees and shrubs. Nutri-Mulch is nutrient stabilized with compost so the bark no longer competes with plants for nutrients. It has a rich, dark brown appearance that stays for all, if not most of the season, unlike other products that bleach out. (photo is of my gardens just mulched in with Nutri-Mulch)

Channel 8 TV in Portland, Maine recently did a fascinating story titled ‘From Flush to Flowers’.  Fascinating.  Check it out by clicking here.

Nutri-Mulch is available at a number of garden centers, including Estabrook’s in Yarmouth, Maine.  To learn more about Casella Organic products and locations in New England and New York where they are available (bag or bulk), click here 
In many regions there seems to have been an explosion in the rabbit population.  And like deer (especially fawns) they are adorable to look at.  Unfortunately the damage they can do to our gardens is not so adorable.  It is downright sickening. 

One way to reduce our heartache is to steer clear of perennials that ring the loudest dinner bell for these four-footed hoppers.

New England and Michaelmas Asters (Aster novi-belgii and Aster novae-angliae)
Tall Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrid)
Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)
Mountain Bluet (Centaurea montana)
Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa caucasica. Pictured above)
Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
Tree Peony(Paeonia suffruticosa)
(Resource: The Missouri Botanical Garden’s web site that is a FANTASTIC plant reference!)

Another way to protect vulnerable plants of all types (edibles, annuals, bulbs, shrubs and trees) is to reach for Plantskydd Repellent for Rabbits and Small Critters. This repellent comes in 3, 7 and 20 pound granular shakerpaks.  Plantskydd is available at many garden centers as well as online at You can save 10% when purchasing online at Plantskydd by using this special promo code: PyoursSpring2016. Orders over $55 receive free shipping!

Plantskydd® Repellents are considered the most cost-effective and environmentally safe, animal repellents on the market. These have been proven to be the NUMBER ONE most tested, most effective, and longest lasting animal repellents you can buy. Plantskydd is OMRI listed, safe for all plants including edibles.  Plantskydd is rain-fast; does not require constant re-application, and is backed by a 100% money-back guarantee.
Great news!  Gardener’s Supply Company is now offering followers of Perennially Yours a 20% special discount on all online purchases. Simply type in PYOURS16 as the promotional code. 

Two of many favorite purchases from Gardener’s Supply are my solar-powered planters.  Here is a picture of them right after I planted them three days ago.  Soon the chartreuse potato vine, Summer Wave Large Blue Torenia will billow down the sides. In the evening the glowing planters are truly mesmerizing as they change colors (you can also set them to a selected color). Everyone – including my cheering neighbors – loved them! Although they are not inexpensive, they are worth every penny.  Plus you can save 20% with your promo code!
Spring is a great time to divide many summer and fall-blooming perennials that have grown too big for their britches and are crowding neighboring plants.   Dividing plants is good for them, despite how stressful it may look or feel to you. Division stimulates new root growth. Younger roots are more efficient at their job than older ones. Plus dividing perennials yields more plants (especially valuable for perennials that don’t come true from seed), opens up space between plants, reduces disease and insect problems, and allows more nutrients per plant from less root competition. (pictured below - Siberian Iris crying out to be divided!)

Recommended steps for dividing perennials (excerpt from my book The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists)
*water the garden the day before so the soil is easier to work
*if there is a lot of foliage, cut back some for easier handling and to be able to see the roots better
*insert the spade straight down and dig a circle around the plant at a distance of four to six inches from the outer stems
*lift the plant from soil, shake some soil from the roots and place the clump on its side. If the perennial is too big to lift in one clump, create ‘subdivisions’ by carving sections right in the ground with a spade or knife and then give these the old heave ho
*work soil away from roots with your fingers or use a strong spray of water to blast soil free so you can see the roots
*divide by either 1) slicing with a spade or knife, 2) pulling sections apart with your hands or 3) breaking off newer outer growth. The double fork method is frequently mentioned but you need two people to do this and the process is overrated
*discard any old woody sections
*if you are replanting a division where the original plant was, you will need to add additional soil to make up for the loss of mass. While you are at it, add a dollop of organic matter like compost or aged manure
*set the division in the hole, pour in about a cup of diluted liquid fertilizer - Espoma’s Organic Start!*  Back fill with soil and water in with ‘plain’ water. Make sure the plant’s crown, where the stems meet the roots, is level with the soil. Not too deep, not too high, but just right.

*Espoma’s Organic Start! is one of three new liquid organic fertilizers available from Espoma, an industry leader in organic fertilizers.  Start! is a plant’s version of our high-energy juice drinks – quickly available to the plant for healthy results.  Espoma’s unique Easy Dose Cap pours the perfect amount without any measuring or mess!  Organic Start! (1-2-2) helps plants bounce back quickly after being divided and also promotes rapid root growth.  This in turn generates a flush of new foliage growth which will be followed by oodles of flowers.
Evan & Mom's Corner
Evan’s graduation from Harvard was the highlight of the month of May.  Graduation festivities started Tuesday afternoon and ran through Thursday afternoon (May 24-26).  The actual graduation ceremonies were on Thursday, May 26. The morning ceremony celebrated all graduates from Harvard, undergraduates and advanced degree graduates (Masters and PHds).  There were over 30,000 people in attendance for this ceremony that takes place in the Tercentenary Theater – an outdoor area in the Freshman Yard.  Trying to figure out where Evan was sitting in the masses of black-gowned graduates was like playing Where’s Waldo in real life. 

The actual awarding of diplomas was done in a separate ceremony at their undergraduate houses.  Evan lived in Quincy House his senior year.  There were 161 seniors in this house.  Each was called onto the stage to receive their diploma and words of recognition.  A very emotional moment for me.  My two sisters, Kim and Jane, were at this ceremony along with their wonderful husbands, Jeff and Christian. And of course Meg, Evan’s charming girlfriend of two years (she graduated from Harvard the year before), was with us as well.

Our family also had another reason to celebrate last month.  Evan was accepted to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business - more specifically, their 2+2 program.  Accepted college graduates have the opportunity to work two years in their career field of choice and then enroll directly in the 2-year MBA program in Palo Alto (CA). They can defer enrollment up to five years after their acceptance. The school's average acceptance rate is 7% or less.

I hope you will enjoy these snapshots of our family celebrations!  Until next month….
Perennially yours,
My sisters and their husbands with us at graduation
Evan and meg at the graduation dinner with friends
Evan and some of his Fly Club brothers at graduation dinner
Mom and son
My Dad and Carol at celebrating Evan's graduation at my house
Evan and Meg at our home for the family celebration
Evan and his Fly Club brothers
Evan and Meg at a pre-graduation celebration at the Fly Club
Leaving Harvard after Evan's four wonderful years.
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